Sunday, January 15, 2012

statue in Kumanovo

this is an article I wrote for the Macedonian Peace Corps newspaper

Big City Living

I live in Kumanovo, which if you didn’t already know, is one of the larger municipalities in Macedonia. Now it’s all big city living for me, the high life all the way. We have more restaurants than you can count, a city pool, a Slovenian market, and an ice skating rink. I know, you’re jealous; I would be too, except I live in this wonderful city. Really though, I can count the restaurants, there are about eight or so that people regularly go to and the city pool’s existence is up for debate. Tus, the market chain from Slovenia, has been known to rip people off and the skating rink is temporary, located on what is normally a tennis court. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that I have more than one option for coffee and groceries, I mean heck I have a place I can go, some of you don’t even have that option.

Generally living in a big city gives you options that you don’t get in other smaller places. It also affords me the flexibility to blend in and make somewhat of a life that has elements of familiarity to a life I once had in America. For example, I have more freedom and space to run, which others cannot speak of, especially if you are female. Though, in the morning I may still get strange looks, I have a river and a paved walk-way I can run along and sometimes I am not the only one out there running. In villages, the road might not even be longer than a mile and running often can be difficult (I know I lived in a village for training).

All that aside, I am thankful that I live in Kumanovo, partially because I am in a larger city and also because there are three other volunteers that live here. Though I had no choice in the matter, I would most certainly pick to live in Kumanovo. It has a large city feel, with stores, cafes, and restaurants, but it still is small. When I go out I often run into some one I know, whether it is my coworkers or friends, and it’s great to take a moment out of my day to stop and say hi and see how someone is doing. Here, no matter what your agenda may be, even if you are running late, there is always time to stop and say hello. And when I am out with friends, Macedonian or American, they always see someone else they know, and often my circle of friends grows upon such occasions.

People are curious about meeting the American; they want to know who I am and why on earth I chose to spend two years of my life here in Macedonia. Since moving to site, well really to Macedonia, after the initial information is exchanged, I’ve come to learn that people are the same here as they are in America, or really anywhere else. Though growing up here can be different than being raised in America, people are people, with dreams, preferences, and responsibilities, just like anyone else in the world. I just hope a year from now I can say I have friendships that have grown and blossomed and that I can call Kumanovo home and its people my community, where we learn and grow together.

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